Microsoft Defends 'Oslo' Move to SQL Server

Since announcing its plans to fold its modeling technology, up to now known by the code name Oslo, into its SQL Server platform, Microsoft has been taking flak from developers complaining of a letdown by the software giant regarding the future of its modeling strategy. In response, Microsoft defends its plans and says the modeling strategy is intact.

Since announcing its plans to fold its modeling technology, up to now known by the code name Oslo, into its SQL Server platform, Microsoft has been taking flak from developers complaining of a letdown by the software giant regarding the future of its modeling strategy.

Indeed, developers commenting on the Microsoft blog post explaining the company's decision expressed views ranging from disappointment to feeling that Microsoft's move was "lame." Essentially, the primary complaints centered around Microsoft's decision to land the modeling technology in SQL Server, which many developers said they viewed as limited in scope. The other major concern was about the future of Microsoft's DSL (domain-specific language) technology as it relates to the "M" modeling language that is part of Oslo-now known as SQL Server Modeling.

Microsoft Software Architect Douglas Purdy, a leader on the Oslo project, blogged about the company's decision in a post that drew more than 40 comments. Those comments prompted Purdy to author a second post to further explain Microsoft's position.

One commenter to Purdy's first post, who identified himself as Joe Wood, said he was "Disappointed by this news. Oslo seems to have gone from a potential new Enterprise Architect modeling platform to just a modeling tool and DSL stack for SQL Server. This ignores all those large enterprise IT departments with heterogeneous data platforms."

Another commenter, Pedro Molina, said, "Microsoft sold us Oslo to be the strong movement in the MDD [model-driven development] direction and aligned with the great job done in the MS DSL Tools. MGrammar is a great effort in such direction. Now Oslo will be another thing totally different: a set of tools highly tied to SQL Server. That is quite different [in] respect to the initial selling proposition we all bought!"

In an observation about the Oslo move via Twitter, Martin Fowler, chief scientist at ThoughtWorks and an expert on programming, simply said, "A promising vision sputters."

And yet another commenter, Dody Gunawinata, said, "This is really lame. The original vision of Oslo was the right one-it was bold and visionary and could have been going far-especially since it can really play well with .NET framework. Now this is just a lame modeling tool for SQL Server."

Meanwhile, Richard Mark Soley, chairman and CEO of the OMG (Object Management Group), which promotes modeling and has often been critical of Microsoft's approach to modeling, took a positive view of Microsoft's decision. "It makes sense to integrate modeling across their line, from development tools to database tools to business integration tools," Soley told eWEEK. "Sounds smart to me."

Sean McLellan, who commented on Purdy's initial post, said:

"The bigger picture here should be the focus on MDD and DSLs and combining those two so that if I wanted to create the next great language-or even the next small language-there would be tools to support me and allow me to use all the existing power of the .NEt framework.

"We don't need the Purdy working on stuff that's already flooding the market ... we want him to be working on the cool and exciting stuff ... I'm hoping I'm [wrong] since this is a knee-jerk reaction to a vision with details I haven't seen ... but this seems like a huge change of direction from what looked to be a very promising destination."

And Samuel Jack, another developer responding to the Purdy post, commented: "I think I'm in two minds about this announcement: On the one hand, I think it brings a lot of clarity to the data modeling concepts of Oslo, but I can't help thinking that tying M to SQL Server in this way will cripple the potential of the DSL vision; surely that has much wider applicability than is suggested by calling it 'SQL Server Modeling'?"

In response to the series of comments, Purdy said in his second post:

""The key takeaway is that this is a SQL Server product feature that has programmability via .NET and VS. It is just as much a part of VS and .NET as anything else we ship."As a developer, if you look at all the things you program against in VS/.NET you will [quickly] see that most of what you are programming are actually features of the underlying products like Windows, Office and SQL Server. ..."
""The net of this post is the following:??Ç The fact that these technologies are part of SQL Server does not mean that they are not available in Visual Studio or part of the .NET Framework-they are absolutely deeply integrated with both VS and .NET.??Ç SQL Server, of all the Microsoft products, is the most obvious and logical place for these technologies to be located.??Ç We remain committed to the core DSL capabilities of the "M" language.""

Moreover, in responding to developer comments on his first post, Purdy wrote, "If you have ever tried to ship a big v1 at a big software company, you know what this transition is and what it is like-and that this is a very positive step for customers and the team."

And in summary, he added, "The great irony to all these comments is that all we did was change the name from 'Oslo' to ... SQL Server Modeling and now we get the #fail tag. If we had called it Windows Modeling or .NET Modeling would it have been #success?"

Microsoft officials said the company will explain in more detail what the SQL Server Modeling move means at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, which runs Nov. 17 to 19 in Los Angeles.